Detroit Tigers: Daniel Norris returning from COVID-19 list adds versatility

(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

The Detroit Tigers learned that Daniel Norris is cleared of the COVID-19 protocol, meaning when he officially returns, he will add versatility to the pitching staff.

The Detroit Tigers pitching staff is better than it was during the 2019 season, and it could get better based on how the 2020 season plays out. The Tigers also just learned that left-handed pitcher Daniel Norris is finally being cleared of the COVID-19 protocols.

Norris will not just jump right into the big leagues, but once he can return to the big league mound in a game, things will get interesting for the organization’s pitching staff. Now, the season started Friday, but Norris will be back with the rotation sooner than later.

The Cincinnati series will not see Norris, but he is aiming to be back soon after the series. It comes at a good time as Jordan Zimmermann heading to the 45-day injured list with tightness in his forearm. This leaves the Tigers to fill some gaps in the rotation.

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Currently, Matthew Boyd is the ace, starting Friday’s contest with the Reds, Iván Nova was given game two, and Spencer Turnbull was given game three. This leaves Tyler Alexander and Michael Fulmer as the fourth and fifth arms.

Initially, Alexander and Fulmer were expected to be a tandem set, but this could change for the time being. When Norris returns to the rotation, he could hold down a spot on his own, but if the Tigers want a revolving door, it should be possible.

Given that the Tigers staff has been noted to be stretched out to multiple innings, someone like Bryan Garcia of Rony Garcia could join the piggybacking strategy after an opener.

Looking at Norris, he could quickly drop into the back end of the rotation and have success, given one thing.

Norris should be explicitly used as a “one time through the order” pitcher who simply throws three innings, hoping to get nine outs and call it a day. Turn the ball over to Michael Fulmer or someone from the bullpen and be done with it.

If the Tigers use Norris as a “one time through the order” pitcher, they will be able to capitalize on his abilities on the mound and avoid leaving him out to dry, which has been an issue in some starts. Turning the ball over and trusting the bullpen will be vital for the success of the Tigers’ pitching staff.

Though the Detroit Tigers staff is a bit short, it should still show some versatility.

Looking at the back end of the rotation, Alexander can be both a starter and a reliever, Fulmer is embracing the new role as a versatile pitcher, and Norris can also do both. A bullpen day could be in the works here and there.

Throwing Fulmer behind Alexander or Norris will be beneficial. Even starting Fulmer for three-ish innings and tossing Alexander or Norris out there in relief is a bright idea. Other pitchers in the bullpen could find themselves as piggyback pitchers, as mentioned above.

Rule-5 draft choice Rony Garcia might be able to come into games and be productive, whether it is the fourth or seventh inning. He looked sharp in Summer Camp, and hopefully, it will translate onto the mound for the 2020 big league season.

The Tigers bullpen and entire staff for that matter are going to be versatile. They may not be an electric pitching staff featuring versatility like a team like the Tampa Bay Rays, but it still will be beneficial.

Now, the Tigers may end up in the last place or near it, taking home another high draft pick, or they could end up near the bottom of the pack but not the very bottom. If the pitching staff shows any sort of improvement and they stay healthy, then life is good for the organization.

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Watch out for the Detroit Tigers bullpen, especially once Norris comes back and helps provide some help to the bullpen’s backend.